Pho and Crab… Westward To My Favorite Pho

I seldom use the word “best“, but this,  by far, 
is my favorite pho place! They also sell the
BEST wings I’ve ever had!
Spicy Chili Shrimp

To try pho (pronounced “fuh”) is to love pho. This out-west restaurant is a warm oasis in the middle of any cold day. If it’s not a cold day, just wait a minute – the weather will change.
Pho and Crab Restaurant, nestled along Memorial Drive, near Dairy Ashford, is one of those fabulous finds in a sea of strip malls and shops. General Manager Andrew Tran is a gracious and friendly host who makes sure his diners experience the best crab and the freshest seafood ingredients possible (in MY opinion). He has been practicing his craft for over 25 years and it looks like he has honed it well.

The first time I visited, I brought pho home from his restaurant on a cold, rainy night two years ago. Sally had no idea how much seafood could be packed into that styrofoam doggie bag container of soup. She couldn’t believe the number of shrimp, scallops and crab legs tucked inside.  She went wild for the mysterious green drink – Lemongrass Limeade.

 Crab, Shrimp and Scallop Pho

 

Fresh Basil, Cilantro and Bean Sprouts
Typically, pho is served with the above-pictured fresh ingredients to be added at will when you start or as you work your way through the salty seafood, chicken or beef mixture. Sriracha is optional.
Crab is obviously one of this restaurant’s specialties, and they serve Alaskan King, Snow, Dungeness, Bairdi, and when in season, Soft-Shell Crabs. And if you like mussels, they have them, too. Curried and vegan dishes will keep your friends entertained while you devour this:
Delicious, Abundant Crab!
Succulent Bairdi Crab Claws

Andrew’s favorite treasure is the Bairdi Crab – so good he recommends these Bering Sea favorites over all the others. These easygoing animals live symbiotically with King Crab and when you see folks catching King Crab on tv… about 20% of them are Bairdi Crab. Its easy-to-extract leg meat is sweet and comes out a blessed whole piece. That is such a satisfying feeling to crack a leg and be able to quickly chow down on crab!

Chicken and Noodles

His chicken and noodles are not the farm type, but the meat is grilled and sliced into strips – hearty and filling. In my opinion, garlic and onion add much to the delightful flavor.

Lemongrass Limeade

If you do go, you must try the Lemongrass Limeade – highly recommended. That zippy little green drink is refreshing without being cloyingly sweet. The lemongrass is homegrown by Tran and makes it a uniquely flavored treat. I can’t have a meal without it.

Pad Thai

Pad Thai is always a good “testing” dish as it is served and requested everywhere. Pho and Crab’ s flat noodles remain separate and not gummy as can so often happen. It is the comfort dish of many countries, and this one is great.
Chili Spicy Pepper Hot Wings

We do not want to forget the most astonishing chicken wings we ever had.  They serve them three ways: Chili Spicy Pepper, Saigon-Style, and Tamarind. If you only try these, you will be glad you made the trek west. They are marinated for hours and grilled to piping hot perfection. Finger-licking? Absolutely! But also, you will want to gnaw them down to the bones!

I truly believe what makes Pho & Crab so wonderful is the graciousness of its general manager, Andrew Tran. He clearly loves seeing his customers enjoy his food.

Andrew Tran, General Manager, Pho and Crab Restaurant

Everyday dining is elevated to a night out on the town with a little of Frank Sinatra’s relaxing music and the surprisingly romantic dining room and fine art. A beverage of your choice could make this a Valentine’s Day treat.

PhoAndCrab.com

Pronto is Very Pronto… yet freshly made!

Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken

One of the hardest things a food writer has to do is to convince many diners that a chain restaurant has a made-from-scratch kitchen. In the case of Pronto, all you have to know is the owners are the VIncent Mandola Family. Yes, the very same people who created Nino’s and Vincent’s on West Dallas. The same love and attention to fresh ingredients, details and flavor that have made their restaurants famous for the past twenty-plus years, can be tasted in every bite at Pronto.

Several friends of mine and I met at the Pronto Cucinino on San Felipe, two and 1/2 blocks from my house (thank you very much).

Breadsticks

The Breadsticks give new meaning to “breadsticks” and are spiced to the limit. I, literally, could make a meal out of a couple of orders of these. They are definitely not your grandfather’s breadsticks. A must to start a meal.

Sliders

Sliders!  I started with one of their “Weekly Special’ that ended Sunday. I posted it because they bring it back about twice a month and you need to try it. It’s a beef patty, topped with seasonal greens and Gorgonzola cheese.  Order yours medium rare.

The Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken is wonderful and will make you clean the bones like you have an eating disorder. Mashed potatoes, French-style green beans are nice complements.

GM and Chef Brian and City Centre To-Go Manager Natalie 

Two employees who make a difference in how the stores  are operating were General Manager Brian Dale, who is also the Executive Chef, and the other was a City Centre location’s To-Go Manager, Natalie.

The Vincent Mandola family – VIncent, Mary, Vinceann and Dana are often in the restaurants from time-to-time, overseeing the daily operations, and acting as quality control agents. A dish, say, the Chicken VIncent, will be the same at each location, made from scratch. This is a dish that I would attempt to make at home. It’s a plump chicken breast dusted with Parmesan, and then pan sauteed then topped with artichokes and lemon. It’s called a “house favorite” and is now a favorite of mine.

Chicken Vincent
 
Two things that stood out and made a believer out of me were the cheeses and very fresh vegetables proudly on display here. I’ve been to three locations and found that the displays of these produce items caught the eye of the diners…especially me.
Fresh Produce
 
This Monster Reggiano Parmesan 
Takes Two to Carry
 
These photos came from the Pronto that is nestled in a strip center housing the new H-E-B store on San Felipe at Fountain View Drive.
San Felipe Location
5885 San Felipe St.
Houston, TX 77057
713-780-8646
 

 

Beck’s Prime… Hardly a Chain Burger!


Bill’s  Burger

They’re all over the place. I can walk to one from my house and drive to another in five minutes (every Wednesday at Memorial Park when I hit golf balls, I then eat a burger at Beck’s Memorial).

It would be easy to call Beck;s an upcale burger joint, but that would disregard the salads… the tuna… the pizzas…the steaks… the meatballs… the Philly cheesesteaks…seafood…13 Italian specialties and on and on. As I go the every Wednesday, I’ve tried a lot… but missed opportunities to photograph a couple of salads, and a bahn mi and wonderful BLT.  But, here are a few of the burgers, etc. that I photographed and remember:

Ribeye Burger




Chili Dog
Cheeseburger
Ahi Tuna Burger
 
All grilled items are grilled over Mesquite coals; the atmosphere and aroma around all locations will draw you in. It’s a familiar, comfortable dining room for family and friends. I’ll mention no addresses, as there are many… just a logo and website:
 
Becks Prime
 

 

Run Away to The Del Restaurant and Bar – Sorry You Didn’t Win Powerball

 
GM Keith Thompson Welcomes You to The Del
Tucked down a Voss side street on Del Monte, on the back side of Cornelius, lies a quiet oasis of comfortable casual country club-style dining. Modern, sleekly clean and neat, The Del Restaurant and Bar welcomes lunchtime visitors with a small, yet wide open space and plenty of outdoor patio seating (approx. 50 seats).

Red Pepper Bisque
Menu items include a fine red pepper bisque swirled with sour cream and a lump of salty shrimp tucked under the surface. 
 

Grilled Pear Salad
The grilled Bosc pear, arugula, frisee, toasted almonds, goat cheese salad drizzled with champagne vinaigrette and large blueberries is sure to please both you and your workout trainer.

Angel Hair & Shrimp/Chicken
 
Angel hair pasta with tomato and asparagus in a lemon butter sauce and shrimp can become pasta and chicken, in a quick exchange and simple blink of the eye.

Lobster Roll
The lobster wedge salad on crispy brioche (roll), with avocado buttermilk dressing was presented with a flourish. (Note to try: Del Shannon – Runaway – Sandwich is made with chicken, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and tangy dressing on rye bread. Cheese board, mussels and lamb, too!)
 
Water glasses and coffee were immediately refilled; waitstaff was extremely attentive and friendly. A lovely way to while away the hours affordably and off the beaten path on the southwest side of town. The restaurant remains in good company with Arturo Boada’s across the street, Cornelius for plant-shopping and Bramble nearby.
 
In all, a pleasant, and as yet only modestly discovered, consistent dining experience. 
Run there while you still can.
713.750.9259
 
 

 

Jack Tyler’s Christmas Miracle


A few months ago, my wonderfully funny and loving husband, Jack, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. A fear and dread came over us both as we realized how fragile life can be. No cancer diagnosis in a family fraught with cancer deaths can be accepted with ease. Jack’s grandmother (one of U.T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s first patients), mother, father, sister and still with us niece – all have had bouts with cancer (prostate, throat, thyroid, lung). Few families remain untouched by cancer and many are fighting it now.


After nine long weeks of 45 cancer treatments through Memorial Hermann’s Texas Oncology Radiation Center Memorial City, his doctors predict that in 2016, he will be cancer free!  We are going with that positive thought and optimistically counting it as “Jack Tyler’s Christmas Miracle”. As we all know, nothing keeps a good man down.



Come join us in celebration on Monday, December 21, 2015, at 5:30 p.m., at Ula’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina, 5555 Washington Avenue (near TC Jester). (Click here to join us: http://a-christmas-miracle-for-jack-tyler.eventbrite.comGenerously, Brady Bussey, owner, will provide $4 Margaritas and appetizers for all. In appreciation for his wilingness to host, we hope you will make your personal dinner reservations now.

The holidays and year-end are a great time to take a moment to celebrate your own family’s health and wellness and to plan for a better 2016! Take time to reflect on goodness and enjoy a cup of cheer with us. We look forward to  meeting and sharing time with you. Happy Holidays and here’s to a better 2016!



Getting Well!

Thanks to the writing skills of my Senior Editor, Sally Tyler, my blog and Houston Eats Facebook page haven’t stopped and some posts have been written by her. Thank you! Cancer treatments will be over in two weeks (13 of 45 left) and a spinal pain treatment will be done two days after the cancer treatments. I’m starting today with a couple of posts to get me back on track. Happy Thanksgiving!

Some homemade smoked Salmon from Amalfi

 

 

Kasra Persian Grill – Persian Perfection

The Cyrus Cylinder (the first attempt we know about running a society and a national symbol of Iran) and this restaurant are a couple of great reasons to appreciate Iran. Kasra Persian Grill is yet another cultural treat available in Houston.
Feta, Parsley, Spearmint, Basil and Radishes To Start
Hottest of Bread Greets Each Diner
Tomato Cucumber Salad Refreshes With a Squeeze of Lemon
Cherry Rice With Butter, Roasted Tomatoes and Filet Mignon
Lamb Shank Extraordinaire – Eggplant Sauce
Adam Parsa and his father, Morty Parsa, and mother, Cyndi Parsa have swept the restaurant location of any bad vibes of previous owners. The lunch crowd on a weekday was constant – business and family combined, and happily sated with the luxuries of graceful, peaceful Middle Eastern dining. The service is friendly and solicitous – each customer’s needs are attended quickly and with a smile. The team of waitstaff obviously support one another by removing plates and offering tea and more bread – all making sure that all diners come back. 

When you are one of Houston’s (Allison Cook’s) Top 100 Restaurants (and the only Persian one), you try harder.  Moving up year after year has been a point of pride and accomplishment. After over 20 successful, hard-won years in the business and serving such a wonderful variety of unique dishes, this restaurant deserves a try from you. Iranians savor saffron and Zereshk, a unique tart barberry that is believed to limit your cholesterol intake; the dried barberry flakes are tucked on every table to help you keep your waistline in check throughout the seasons’ eatings.

By Culinary Houston Senior Editor, Sally Tyler

Kasra Persian Grill
Morty & Cindi Parsa
9741 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77042
713-975-1810



Going With the Flow at FLO Paris Bakery and Cafe

A delicious little corner restaurant on Westheimer near the Galleria just popped up. Sally is a sucker for a pretty typeface sign. She spotted it on a frequent drive-by a few months back and wondered if it was a hair salon. On closer inspection, she reported happily that it was a new French cafe, Flo Paris Bakery and Cafe, tucked nearby Cafe Lili, another favorite lunch-spot. A little late for her recent birthday celebration and in the mood for butter and perfection, I decided we’d better try it.

The gleaming counters and crystal clear display cases beckon with amazing patisseries, confections and a crepe station. Old standbys like Salad Nicoise, Chocolate Eclairs, gorgeous breads and French Onion Soup….cleverly topped with a removable lid of Gruyere and fresh crisp Sourdough bread that could be dipped or submerged into a flavorful dark and comforting “liquid lunch”.

French Onion Soup
Followed by a Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Quiche
A Salmon Mille-feuille layered with Avocado, Wasabi Cream was so light, fluffy and thinly, flakily crisp as to have us both moaning with pleasure. A neighboring diner asked if it was as good as it looked – we just smiled and glowed.
To close the meal, I chose a Strawberry Cream Puff which carried home handily while we devoured the complimentary multi-colored, multi-flavored Macarons (Vanilla, Cherry, Lime).

good-natured solutions

The comfortable modern chairs and wide open seating make it a family-friendly, upscale training ground for young diners. The food is so pretty that two little girls were perfectly well-behaved with the hope of returning to the counter to choose their desserts. A small outside area allows those who wish to, enjoy the last of our beautiful fall weather.

A lovely experience from start to finis! Merci beaucoup for opening so near our house!

Flo Paris Bakery and Cafe
5757 Westheimer #105
Houston, TX 77057
713-706-4442
www.FloParisCafeBakery.com

Himalaya… Indian and Pakistani Cuisine


I always thought that Indians and Pakistanis didn’t get along very well. Well that’s NOT the case at Himalaya… a small restaurant in a mostly Indian-American strip center at Hillcroft and SW Freeway. While I’ve eaten here before, it was a surprise for Sally. 

The restaurant is small and casual and you must be 
impressed by the awards and rave reviews on the wall!
The restaurant is small and casual and there is plenty of attention from the owner, Kaiser Lashkari. This trip, we decided to eat rather lite and asked Kaiser to order for us. Hard to do, as food from this region is not easily “diet-ized.”

Garlic Naan.


Our lunch consisted of regular Naan and Garlic Naan. The Garlic Naan was spectacular and we decided that it could be a destination dish. All crispy and you could taste the garlic before it reached your mouth!

Naan



Aloo Chana Masala

The Aloo Chana Masala (chick peas and potatoes) was delicious and was not one of the dishes that made it to the doggie bag. It was an a vegan Punjab Indian dish simmered in a piquant curry sauce.

Chicken Achaari 
Chicken Achaari was cubed chicken simmered in a tangy smoky curry sauce. Delicious.


Goat Masala 

The Goat Masala was bone-in goat cooked in a tomato and onion sauce. It also had a rich garlic curry sauce. The meat was tender as can be and the bone-in treatment is testament to the fact that nothing is wasted in that part of the world.

Indian Rice

The Indian rice was cooked perfectly and not the slightest bit of stickiness such as in Japanese or American rices. Himalaya is certainly our go-to restaurant for Indian/Pakistani food… and just may become a hang-out for me! Himalaya is a must-go experience!

Himalaya Restaurant & Catering Houston, TX

6655 Southwest Freeway, Houston 77074

713-532-2537



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